Horse Deaths at Santa Anita Spell Trouble for the Horse Racing Industry

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NY Times coverage:

As the Triple Crown season approaches, the talk should be about contenders for the Kentucky Derby. Instead, dead horses and canceled races are hot topics after Santa Anita Park suspended thoroughbred racing because of a spike in fatalities that has cast doubt on the safety of its racing surface.

A filly named Lets Light the Way was euthanized on Tuesday after shattering a sesamoid bone at the ankle joint. It was the 21st horse fatality in racing or training at Santa Anita since Dec. 26. That is more than the 20 deaths that occurred over 122 racing days in 2017, according to Jockey Club data.

“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, which owns the track, said in a statement. “While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time.”

It was the second time in eight days that the historic track below the San Gabriel Mountains a few miles east of Pasadena, Calif., was shut down. The closure has forced the postponement on Saturday of the track’s signature race, the Santa Anita Handicap, which was won by the storied horse Seabiscuit in 1940, and the San Felipe Handicap, a major prep race for 3-year-olds trying to qualify for the Kentucky Derby…

The track was closed on Feb. 26 and 27 after the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, Battle of Midway, was fatally injured during a workout. A track safety expert from the University of Kentucky, Mick Peterson, was brought in to search for possible irregularities that might explain the spike in fatalities.

He didn’t find any. Shortly after the course was reopened, however, the filly Eskenforadrink became the 20th fatality, breaking down during a race and later being euthanized…

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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